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Murder on the Marmora by Conrad Allen

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur ISBN: 0312307918 

Reviewed by C.J. Curry, New Mystery Reader

Are you ready for an early twentieth century sailing adventure? This one is it. George Porter Dillman and his partner Genevieve Maesfield have been hired as ship’s detectives for the prestigious P & O Shipping Lines, or to use it’s full name, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. Dillman is accustomed to the larger ships of the Cunard Line and he is at first disappointed in the Marmora.. But he soon realized it was unfair to compare one ship to the others. Looking forward to spending the Christmas holidays at sea, Dillman eagerly climbed the gangway ready to face the new challenge.

Accustomed to working closely with the ship’s purser, Dillman is taken aback at the hostility that greets him in the person of Brian Kilhendry. The purser quickly tells Dillman that there has never been crime of any consequence aboard the Marmora as he , Kilhendry soon ‘noses’ out cardsharps and petty thieves. and he thinks Dillman and his partner are unneeded and unwanted..! To add to the pursers usual chores, there is a Royal party aboard and Dillman is instructed to report to the deputy purser, Martin Grandage and not to bother Kilhendry with every little report.

All is well the first few days out. The Princess Royal and her husband, the Duke and Duchess of Fife and their two daughters take their daily constitutionals on deck and give the other passengers added spice to the stories they can relate to their friends. But soon a rash of thefts are being reported mostly by single women aboard ship. Cash and jewelry are disappearing from cabins, mainly when the guests are in the dining room or the lounge. The list of suspects grows as more and more thefts occur. A famous Egyptologist, Professor Goss has part of his Egyptian relics stolen along with his daughter’s prize flute. A young business man who claims to be an investment broker is telling his shipmates about a new luxury hotel that is soon to be built in Cairo. A dour photographer who has a heavy German accent and a pompous Frenchman who claims to be a chef extraordinaire are among others who become suspects. To add to the tension, Genevieve soon discovers the man to whom she was once engaged is on board with his new bride. Nigel and Araminta Wilmshurst are sailing to Egypt for their extended honeymoon and there are bound to be confrontations.

But the worst is yet to come. A steward discovers the body of one of his charges in his cabin, covered in blood. Is this a burglary gone bad? Or has Walter Dugdale insulted the wrong person? The murder adds to all of the tension on board and Dillman and Genevieve become thoroughly confused. Add all of this to the growing hostility of the purser to the detectives and you have circles within circles-clues leading nowhere-and almost everyone on board becoming a suspect.

This is right up the alley of readers who like a cozy escape story with a little adventure thrown in. Mr. Conrad had written a series of stories which take place aboard various cruise ships of the time. 1908 was a year of traveling to exotic places for rich Americans and British alike and Mr. Allen has given us the ambience of life aboard these traveling luxury hotels. He also puts you right there with his descriptions of the first class passengers of the day and their attitudes.

I liked this book. It took me away from everyday tensions of my own, so therefore fulfilled its purpose.


 Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN: 0312277326

Reviewed by Donna Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Meg Langslow attends a convention for the cast and fans of Porfiria, Queen of the Jungle, a low budget TV show based on 30 year old comic books,  Not a fan of the show herself, she accompanies her fiancé Michael, a drama department professor who also plays Mefisto, the diabolical wizard on the show.

Meg finds Tammerlaine Wyncliffe-Jones, the star and executive producer of the show, murdered in her room.  Wynncliffe-Jones is also known as QB, Queen Bee or Queen Bitch, depending on whether or not anyone is within hearing distance, so there are hundreds of suspects running around the hotel.  Not being able to keep her nose out of the investigation, Meg places herself in mortal danger.

This is a funny and punny tale filled with hordes of hilarious costumed characters.  Yet, the main characters in the plot, for the most part, are sensitive and intelligent,  In addition to a sense of humor, they have good reasoning skills, very sound opinions and philosophies.  Any reader who enjoys comedy along with a well plotted mystery tale will absolutely love this book.